Sunday, November 20, 2011

Neanderthal Neuroscience

Oh, the things we are learning via genetic research! Excepting events that seem to be leading us toward the Apocalypse, this is an exciting time to be alive, as we learn some of the great secrets of life on earth by studying DNA.

Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick.

"Before the 1990s, scientists could only study the shape of fossils to learn about how we evolved. A million years ago, the fossil record contained evidence of human-like creatures in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Roughly speaking, the leading hypotheses for how those creatures became Homo sapiens came in two flavors. Some scientists argued that all the Old World hominins were a single species, with genes flowing from one population to another, and together they evolved into our species. Others argued that most hominin populations became extinct. A single population in Africa evolved into our species, and then later spread out across the Old World, replacing other species like Neanderthals in Europe.

As scientists began to build a database of human DNA in the 1990s, it became possible to test these ideas with genes."

Read more:       Neanderthal Neuroscience        Discover Magazine : Carl Zimmer